1. Good afternoon. Over the last few days, we saw an increasing number of Omicron cases. In fact, over the past week, we have detected a total of 1,281 Omicron cases. Yesterday alone, we reported 438 are Omicron cases. Hence, it is very likely that we will see an Omicron wave quite soon.
2. With local and international evidence indicating that Omicron is more infectious compared to Delta, we must be mentally prepared that the Omicron wave may be greater than the Delta wave we had experienced before.
3. We are hopeful, however, that there will be proportionally fewer cases with severe illness. Preliminary evidence shows that Omicron is likely to be less severe than Delta. We are in a better position today to cope with Omicron, compared to when the Delta wave first occurred.
4. The vaccination rate of our population is now 87%, and we have made good progress on our booster programme. To date, 42% has received their booster shot.
· I would like to encourage everyone to go for your booster shot when it is offered to you, as international data shows that boosters significantly increase the level of protection against infection and severe illness caused by Omicron.
· Besides having a highly vaccinated population, we have streamlined and simplified our healthcare protocols, as most individuals who are infected experience mild or no symptoms and they can recover at home. This will allow us to preserve our healthcare resources for those who need them. Nevertheless, we will further enhance our healthcare protocols to further streamline the management of COVID-19 cases. Minister Ong will elaborate further.
5. It has been almost two years since COVID-19 reached our shores. I would like to thank everyone for your patience, and assure you that even with the emergence of Omicron, we remain committed to living with COVID-19.
· In fact, with Omicron being highly transmissible and spreading faster, it is even more certain that it is not possible to eradicate the virus totally.
· Hence, we will have to find a way to co-exist with COVID-19, while protecting our healthcare system.
6. The virus remains unpredictable. There may be more variants emerging in time to come. We will need to remain vigilant and nimble, and be prepared to adjust our strategy in dealing with COVID-19. I know many of us are frustrated with the protracted battle against COVID-19, and with the safe management measure (SMM) restrictions we have to abide by. But these measures will help to slow down the infections, reduce the number when cases peak, and protect our healthcare system and healthcare workers. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to continue to exercise social responsibility, observe the SMMs, and test yourselves regularly. Let us continue to stay united in our journey towards COVID-resilience. Thank you.